From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- India-US relations
The possibility of India’s continuing rise over this century seems to be on a stronger wicket today than it did a decade ago, marred as the early 2010s were by political instability and economic turmoil.
Historical background of dominance of world economy by the East
- Prior to the era of colonial exploitation followed by self-inflicted stagnation due to communist economic policies adopted across the region, the ancient civilisations of India and China dominated the world economy
- There existed a deep history of scientific innovation and technological prowess, which spread by osmosis and intercourse from the East to the West.
- The West, led principally by Great Britain, then stole a march over Asia with the advent of the Industrial Revolution.
- Emergence of the US: A pyrrhic victory for Britain in the Second World War marked the formal transfer of the Western bloc’s leadership to the US.
Geopolitics in 2020s
- Emergence of China: China is now home to a manufacturing-led and technology-driven economy, competing head-on with the US in areas like biotech, robotics, artificial intelligence, and advanced materials.
- India, which faced an economic setback when the liberalisation process largely came to a halt between 2004-2014, is back on its feet, with consistent commitment and concerted policy action focused on building domestic capabilities in critical technologies as well as in key manufacturing industries and pursuing important structural economic reforms.
- Common threat of China: From seeing non-democratic China as a benign partner, the US now sees it as a threat, the present preoccupations in Europe notwithstanding.
- India, which for a time welcomed Chinese involvement in its economy, has also recalibrated after the 2020 Galwan face-off.
- Unlike India and the US, which are both well-established republics with deep democratic cultures, China is “a party with a state attached to it”.
- Concerns for India: Being inextricably linked by geography, Beijing’s ambition to dominate its periphery and proximate region is of particular concern to India.
What this mean for India-US relations?
- Natural allies: Given this background, India and the US are natural allies to confront the challenges posed by an expansionist and aggressive China in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
- New areas of cooperation: There are clear signals of unprecedented cooperation between the two countries in areas like national security, defence production and most prominently, new-age information technology and internet industries where American financial firms and blue-chip corporates are contributing growth capital as well as know-how.
- Closer cooperation in scientific research and critical emerging technologies is imperative.
- Reducing India’s dependence for defence equipment: In particular, as some American lawmakers highlighted when providing India with exemption under CAATSA that the American defence industry should contribute to reducing India’s dependence on Russian armaments and equipment.
- Technology cooperation: Connected to the expansion of defence-industrial ties is the broadening of technology collaboration in areas like artificial intelligence, drones, advanced materials, space technology, semiconductors, and biotech in India, beyond the consumer tech and software sectors.
Demographic and economic trends firmly position India as a global force that will have the weight to stride alongside America and China, who would constitute the other two geopolitical — and ideological — poles over the 21st century.
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